Loughborough’s Coolest Museums and Cultural Sights
Although it’s a small city and often overshadowed by its nearby Midlands neighbours, Loughborough is an impressive place to visit all on its own, and boasts a number of exciting museums and cultural sights that guarantee a good day out. Citylife is here to walk you through the best museums and attractions the Leicestershire town has to offer…
Situated in the gorgeous Queen’s Park in the centre of the city, Charnwood’s temporary and permanent exhibitions are free to visit all year round.
A local history museum, Charnwood’s exhibits celebrate the area’s industry and natural world, integrating modern interactive displays in a bid to bring the past to life. Guests are encouraged to learn about the region’s volcanic past, check out ancient Anglo-Saxon artefacts, and try out weaving their own basket.
Be sure to check out the museum’s events calendar to see upcoming temporary exhibitions: don’t miss out the ‘Stitching Traditions’ display, showcasing the role of fashion and textiles in India’s partition and the establishment of a sense of belonging in the town.
The Old Rectory Museum
Loughborough has a long and storied history, and the Old Rectory is an impressive surviving building from the town’s Medieval past. Once home to the Rectors (priests) of nearby All Saints Parish Church, what was once the oldest Rectories in the country is now run by Loughborough’s own Archaeological and Historical Society.
Originally built in the 13th century, the building is worth seeing in itself, but inside you’ll find ancient tombstones, an exhibition about the ‘Mystery House’, and artifacts rescued from nearby Garendon Abbey which were rescued when the Abbey was destroyed.
Stonehurst Family Farm and Museum
What better way to relax during a stressful exam period than hanging out with animals? Get a taste of the countryside by checking out the farm’s ducks, cows and donkeys, before heading to the farm’s own café to sample some delicious fresh cream teas.
A functioning family-run farm, Stonehurst also boasts a farm shop to grab some fresh produce, and a fab motor museum where you can check out some vintage vehicles from Britain’s past.
The farm may be in the nearby village of Mountsorrel (18 minutes away from central Loughborough on the 127 bus), but that shouldn’t stop you – the village itself is idyllic, and a joy to explore.
Great Central Railway
Back in the heart of Loughborough, the Great Central Railway is probably the town’s most famous site. The rail line may have expanded into England’s London and North Eastern Railway, this 13.28km stretch of rail between Loughborough and Leicester is the only double track heritage railway in the world.
Though the heritage railway may exist to preserve the past, it is essentially a living museum, with four fully operational stations. Each station has been refurbished to look like they had at a certain point in the past; Loughborough Central has been restored to its 1950s glory.
Old steam locomotives run across the track, giving you a chance to experience 19th and 20th century travel before the introduction of modern trains.
Unsurprisingly, the track’s atmosphere has inspired many directors to film here: the track has featured in films The Secrett Agent and The Hours, as well as a television adaptation of The 39 Steps and the famous British car show, Top Gear.
New Walk Museum, Leicester
Yes, we know New Walk Museum isn’t exactly in Loughborough, but it is easily accessible and only twenty minutes away by train, so it may as well be.
The reason New Walk made our list is because it is the permanent home of 76 ceramic pieces by one of the world’s most important artists, Pablo Picasso himself. The stunning pieces were created by the master artist during his visits to Vallauris in the South of France in the 1950s and 60s, but there’s more to see in this amazing museum than just Picasso’s pottery.
The gallery boasts a number of exhibitions spanning dinosaur displays to ancient Egypt to important artworks from all throughout the world. A must see is Leicester’s famous collection of German Expressionism: be sure not to miss Neuschul’s ‘Messiah’.
This post has been written by Matteo Everett